Girvin injury quarter crack

Girvin Suffers Quarter Crack In Hoof

2017 Kentucky Derby contender Girvin has suffered a quater crack in his right hoof. While not considered an overtly serious condition, the injury could hamper his ability to compete at full strength over the brutal distance of 1 1/4 miles in the first leg of the Triple Crown. Joe Sharp offered more details as his trainer.

“He’s very sound on it now. It’s just one of those deals where we were just monitoring it. And every quarter crack is different,” Sharp began. “This one threw us for a little bit of a turn and we expected it be routine. And obviously, the last thing I wanted to do was throw up a red flag any earlier than needed.”

Girvin was last out winning the Louisiana Derby after claiming victory in the Risen Star as well.  With 17/1 odds right now to win the derby according to the KDFW Pool 4 results, the colt essentially factors in as a bit of a longshot despite his success. The quarter crack will definitely hinder his ability to train, but Joe Sharp told the media that he would still be able to get work out of the horse in the final days leading up to the derby.

“I wanted to see how it was going to go. I wanted to see which way it was going to go before I had to get asked about what I thought if we could make it. We are planning on breezing, and as long as he’s able to breeze and come out of it well, he’ll run in the Derby. But if he’s not sound enough to make the breeze, we’re not going to go into the Derby not having breezed in two weeks.”

Unfortunately, this is an injury that Girvin has experience with. The contender has suffered a quarter crack before. “When he popped the last quarter crack, he never missed a day. He was never sore on it. He was great,” Sharp said. “The long and short of it is the quarter crack wasn’t where we wanted it. On Tuesday we weren’t happy with it. So we took him to Raul Bras at Rood & Riddle, we utilized KESMARC’s hyperbaric chamber.”

No decision has been made about how severe the quarter crack will limit Girvin but we’ll keep you updated.

Weber City Miss Favorite Jenda’s Agenda Scratched Pre-Race; Lights of Medina Wins

Heading into April 22nd’s Weber City Miss, all eyes were on Jenda’s Agenda. She was the odds-on favorite going into the 1 1/16-mile race for three-year-old fillies that was tapped as a “Win and You’re In” event for the May 19 $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2).

Unfortunately for Jenda’s Agenda, the Laurel Park track veterinarian surprisingly scratched her pre-race because she wasn’t pleased with how she jogged getting off the van from her trip to the track from Delaware Park. Rain turned the track into a wet and sloppy one, and trainer Larry Jones considered the scratch a blessing in disguise not having to run in such horrible weather racing conditions.

Jenda’s Agenda was undefeated in her previous three career starts, a record made even more impressive when she didn’t train all that much for the Caesar’s Wish thanks to cold temperatures.

“She ran very, very well,” said Jones referring to the Caesar’s Wish performance. “The thing about that race, I was just awful proud of surviving it. We had shipped her out of New Orleans and that filly had only been able to go to the track one day out of 12. She had been hung in the barn just having to (walk the) shed row for that, so I was just awful proud to get out of that race in one piece and with a victory.”

Lights of Medina became the new odds-on favorite following Jenda Agenda’s scratch and she would win the Weber City Miss in a time of 1:45.22. Forever Liesl finished second and Frank’s Folly was third.

Belmont Spring/Summer Meet Starts April 28

Belmont Park 54-Day Spring/Summer Meet Filled with 62 Stakes Races and Many Activities

Racing returns to Belmont Park April 28 for its 54-day Spring/Summer meet. The three-day opening weekend is highlighted by the $100,000 Affirmed Success for New York-bred sprinters on Friday followed by a pair of turf stakes in the $150,000 Elusive Quality on Saturday, April 29, and the $150,000 License Fee on Sunday, April 30.

The three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will begin on Thursday, June 8 and conclude on Saturday, June 10 with 18 stakes races contested over the course of the Festival. Highlighting the Racing Festival is the 149th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes. The Belmont Stakes Draw scheduled for Wednesday, June 7 at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

A total of 62 stakes races are scheduled during the Belmont Spring/Summer meet.

In addition, Belmont Park’s 2017 spring/summer meet activities include:

  • Dates: Friday, April 28 through Sunday, July 16
  • First Post Time: 1:30 p.m. EDT, gates open at 11:30 a.m. – except Kentucky Derby and Preakness Day, the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and “Party at the Park” twilight racing.

Kentucky Derby Day:

  • Saturday, May 6 – College Day; commemorative Triple Crown clock giveaway; “Boot, Scoot, & Derby”; and family fun activities

Belmont Stakes Racing Festival:

  • Wednesday, June 7, Belmont Stakes Draw – Rockefeller Center in Manhattan
  • Thursday, June 8-live racing begins with
  • Friday, June 9 – food trucks, Taste NY, and live entertainment; live-money high-roller handicapping tournament (Day 1)
  • Saturday, June 10, Belmont Stakes Day – food trucks, strolling performers, parachuters in the infield, and color guard presentation; jockey autograph signing, and live entertainment; live-money high-roller handicapping tournament (Day 2)

Stars & Stripes Racing Festival:

  • Saturday, July 8 – food trucks; giveaway

“Party at the Park” twilight racing:

  • Dates: Fridays, June 2, June 16, June 23, June 30 and July 7
  • First Post Time: 3:05 p.m. EDT

Breakfast at Belmont:

  • Mother’s Day weekend – Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14
  • Memorial Day weekend & Big Apple Showcase – Saturday, May 27 – Monday, May 29
  • Father’s Day weekend – Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18
  • Stars & Stripes Festival weekend – Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9
  • Time: 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • Admission and parking are free.
Ian Wilkes McCraken

McCraken Roaring With Ian Wilkes

Everyone’s been waiting to see how McCraken responded to his first loss. The three-year-old hopeful suffered his first defeat in the 2017 Blue Grass Stakes after crushing the competition earlier this season. He’s back to work and looking brilliant, thanks in large part to the plan instilled by trainer Ian Wilkes.

McCraken went out for a five-furlong drill this week under the supervision of Ian Wilkes. The colt chewed out splits of :12, :24 3/5, and :36 2/5 in the early lengths, and closed out the session with an absolutely roaring show as he galloped out hard.

“We’ve still got another work yet,” said Ian Wilkes. “But you want to see that gallop out. He went 1:00 3/5 and then he still galloped out strong. If he didn’t gallop out good then wow, I’m behind. I think it tells you a lot about the work.”

Ian Wilkes was part of the team that trained Street Sense on route to a 2007 Kentucky Derby victory. Prior to that huge win, Street Sense was a runner-up in the Blue Grass Stakes. The loss at the derby prep race for McCraken was his first ever, and while devastating initially, the response from the horse has been astounding.

Jockey Brain Hernandez Jr. spoke about how resilient McCraken has been mentally. “All of his races prior to the Blue Grass, he always kind of just did what he wanted and beat up on horses,” Hernandez said. “It’s like a high school football player who beats up on everyone and is really, really good but when he steps up into college, the competition gets deeper.

“I think that’s what happened with McCraken that day. When he got beat, it kind of woke him up. Last week his work was great but today it showed that he can sit back there and, even though the work mate kind of spurted away from him turning for home, he was able to go by him anytime he wanted to. When it was time for him to go on, he picked it up and showed what a smart horse he is.”

McCraken will be one of the top options on the board at the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and will attempt to give Ian Wilkes his first ever win in the Triple Crown. He will mainly compete with Always Dreaming and Classic Empire, but the race to the wire is tighter this year than it’s been in recent memory.

Illinois Derby Offers Preakness Potential for Contenders

Hawthorne Hosts $250,000 Illinois Derby

Saturday’s $250,000 Grade III Illinois Derby returns to Hawthorne Race Course after a 1-year hiatus as management secured its purse funding. While the race will not produce any Kentucky Derby entries, it is certainly one to watch for Preakness Stakes candidates.

Hawthorne management has moved the race to an evening time slot, and a credible and competitive seven-horse field will showcase some promising 3-year-olds looking to make the Preakness Stakes their next stop.

Hedge Fund (3-1) set the blistering pace before finishing 3rd in the Sunland Derby (G3) in New Mexico the end of March. The Super Saver colt trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won this race four times, will more likely be in stalking position behind Stand and Cheer (8-1) and perhaps St. Louis Guy (6-1) as the field turns for home in the 1 1/8 mile race.

It’s Your Nickel (6-1) won the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park and finished 6th in the Grade I Blue Grass at Keeneland just two weeks ago. He’s the only stakes winner in field, but none have won a graded race. The closer to watch is Hollywood Handsome (4-1), who rallied from last to finish 4th  Inthe Grade II Louisiana Derby, just 3 lengths back of Girvin, who tops the Kentucky Derby points list.

Mr. Misunderstood (7-2) can also close and he’s won three in a row and progressed in each race. Perhaps that’s why trainer Brad Cox, who wins at a 24% rate with shippers, has entered him here despite two of those wins coming over the turf at the Fair Grounds and the other on a sloppy track.

Multiplier (9-2) breaks from the rail and has speed, but the distance and step up are questions to be answered.

Watch the Illinois Derby with an eye towards the Preakness Stakes. Same with the main local prep for the Preakness when a small field of five enter the starting gate for Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tessio Stakes at Laurel Park.

Race 5: April 22 Illinois Derby (G3) at Hawthorne Racecours, three-year-olds, one and one eighth miles on the dirt, post time 6:17pm CDT

2017 Federico Tesio Stakes Preview

Action Everyday Stars in 2017 Federico Tesio

The 2017 Federico Tesio Stakes is one of the view prep races that is pretty much designed for the Preakness Stakes. A quintet of contenders will hope to gain some momentum on the Laurel Park track this weekend, with Action Everyday serving as the key figure.

After a 4th place finish at the Gotham Stakes, Action Everyday is looking to rebound as one of the favorites in the 2017 Federico Tesio Stakes. Trainer Todd Pletcher feels that the horse has some growing up to do, both physically and mentally, making him a better fit for one of the later races in the Triple Crown.

“Action Everyday is a horse that has shown some ability and he’s also shown some immaturity,” Pletcher said. “He has been a little bit unprofessional at times in some of his races, so we felt like a little more of an incremental step probably made sense for him.

“We felt like the Tesio, from a timing standpoint, was good and the distance should suit him well. We’re optimistic that he’s got some improvement in him and that he’ll continue to sort of put things mentally together and learn how to polish his races off a little bit.”

O Dionysus will be the local choice and has run many times at Laural Park, but the 2017 Federico Tesio will be the first time he stretches out past 7 furlongs. This may be a tough distance for him to handle, and an experiment by his connections to see whether or not he’s worthy of Triple Crown consideration. He shares the same 5/2 odds as Action Everyday.

Carradine will ship in from New York after most recently placing third in the Damon Runyan. This colt will run from the outisde post for Linda Rice and is posting as the clear favorite.

Twisted Tomis being given 7/2 odds as well, making this a very tight race at the top.

Hashtag Alex is the longshot at the 2017 Federico Tesio Stakes holding 15/1 odds that will probably get even bigger on race day.

2017 Federico Tesio Stakes – Saturday, April 22nd at Laurel Park
1 1/8th Miles – 3 Year Olds – $125,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Hashtag Alex (KY) Carol Cedeno 118 John C. Servis 15/1
2 Action Everyday (KY) Trevor McCarthy 116 Todd A. Pletcher 5/2
3 Twisted Tom (NY) Feargal Lynch 122 Chad C. Brown 7/2
4 O Dionysus (MD) Jevian Toledo 122 Gary Capuano 5/2
5 Carradine (NY) Cornelio H. Velasquez 118 Linda Rice 8/5

Grayson-Jockey Club Appoints Two New Members

Jamie Haydon has been named the new Vice-President of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, and Holly White has been named the foundation’s new Director of Development. The appointments came into effect on April 17, with Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation Chairman Dell Hancock making the announcement.

Both Haydon and White will report to Hancock and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation President Edward L. Bowen. The two newest foundation members will work out of The Jockey Club’s Lexington location.

Haydon graduated from the University of Kentucky and became a Jockey Club staff member in 2008, where he started out as their Manager of Industry Initiatives. He had previously worked for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Four Star Sales, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

White graduated from Alfred University and previously worked in a number of fundraising roles for the the Rochester Regional Health Foundation, Keuka College, St. John’s Foundation, and the University of Rochester. She was also a PR assistant for the Alfred University Equestrian Center, Reichert Celebration, and the Equine Marketing Group.

“These two appointments will fortify our foundation at a time when we have just announced a record level of funding,” said Hancock. “Jamie brings a wealth of knowledge about the Thoroughbred industry and a long list of contacts while Holly is well versed in fund-raising and maintains a long-lasting commitment to equine health and soundness. We are fortunate to have both of them, and we welcome them to the foundation.”

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation dedicates itself as a source of private funding for equine research. Since 1983, they have handed out nearly $25 million to 43 universities that has covered 346 projects.

Stanford and Imperative Duel Again in $1.25 Million Charles Town Classic

Past Champions Stanford and Imperative Headline Charles Town Classic

The $1.25 million Charles Town Classic headlines the biggest day of racing in West Virginia Saturday with eight stakes races on the 13-race card. Defending champion Stanford (8-5) and 2014 winner Imperative (3-1) are the race favorites and familiar foes. Imperative finished 4th in last year’s race won by Stanford, but the two met this year at Gulfstream and Imperative got the head-bobbing win in a superb stretch duel with Stanford in the inaugural Poseidon Stakes Jan. 28 on Pegasus World Cup day.

Imperative Wins Head Bob over Stanford in Poseidon Stakes

Stanford bounced back to win the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs March 11 for his 6th win in 15 starts that also includes five runner-up finishes with over $1.3 million in career earnings. The 5-year-old bay son of Malibu Moon has finished 1st or 2nd in nine of his last 11 starts with three strong starts this year showing good speed in his last race wearing blinkers for the first time.

“The main objective with putting the blinkers on was keeping him focused throughout the race,” trainer Todd Pletcher said following the Challenger Stakes. “He lost his focus a couple of times, and both times we think it cost him the race.”

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will rider Stanford for the fourth straight race and break from the rail with New Jersey-bred Sunny Ridge (6-1) breaking right next to him form post 2. Sunny Ridge has won back-to-back minor stakes races at Aqueduct this year and has the speed and versatility to challenge up front or come just off the pace as he did winning his last race.

Imperative (3-1) is expected to be a big challenger having won this race in 2014 and runner-up in 2015. Last year the 7-year-old Bernardini gelding finished 4th behind Stanford. But new trainer Bob Hess took over this year and watched Imperative win the Poseidon Handicap in his 2017 debut, out-dueling Stanford in a neck-and-neck stretch duel. Imperative was 9th in the Santa Anita Handicap last month, but should be ready for this race with a jockey switch to Javier Castellano.

“He loves the track configuration at Charles Town,” Hess said. “I think he loves that surface being a little kinder. He lost a shoe in the Big ‘Cap, and not saying he would have won, but his feet are just a little delicate so that’s what really hurt him in there.

“He’s put some weight back on that he lost after the Poseidon. He’s been training on the synthetic training track at Keeneland, and working over the main. Javier (Castellano) worked him the other day…and he and Javy seem to have really clicked in the morning, and Javy certainly knows the track well there and that’s a plus,” Hess added.

In addition to 8 stakes worth nearly $1.7 million, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races will again offer a Guaranteed $100,000 All-Stakes Pick 4 covering races 9 through 12 on its April 22nd Charles Town Classic card.

Charles Town Classic Guaranteed $100,000 All Stakes Pick 4*
Race Post Time Stakes Name
9 4:28pm $85,000 Robert Hilton Memorial S.
10 4:58pm $100,000 Sugar Maple S.
11 5:35pm $1,250,000 Charles Town Classic (G2)
12 6:10pm $50,000 Confucius Say S.

In addition, the other stakes races set for Saturday include Race 2 the $50,000 Russell Road, Race 6 the $50,000 Coin Collector, Race 7 the $50,000 It’s Binn Too Long and Race 8 the $50,000 Original Gold.

Salty Roberts Passes Away

We have some sad news to pass along to you dear readers, as Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) founder Horace William “Salty” Roberts passed away at the age of 85.

Roberts first time organizing a worship service on a thoroughbred race track’s backside in 1970. That service spread and it led to the creation of the RTCA in 1972. It now counts 43 chaplains as part of its organization that minsters at 36 tracks and training centers around the country.

“Salty had a real burden on his heart for the people that he worked with,” said friend and Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day. Day is the current President of the Kentucky RTCA chapter. “He eagerly shared that burden by establishing a ministry to serve them right where they worked and often lived—on the backside of racetracks.”

“Countless lives and generations to come have been and will be impacted by the Christ-centered work of Salty Roberts,” said RTCA Executive Director Dan Waits. “We stand on his shoulders, and RTCA will continue to honor his legacy by carrying out the mission he established.”

“I never did become a top jockey or a leading trainer, but God has given me something better than all that,” said Roberts at one point in his life. “He gave me the gift of salvation through his Son, and at the end of my life, when I hear him say, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant,’ I’ll know I’ve won my race. That’s the greatest honor I could ever receive.”

Fantasy Stakes for Fillies Preview

Looking for a Long Shot as Fantasy Stakes Could Provide Surprise in Final Oaks Prep

The road to the Kentucky Oaks reaches its final stop Friday at Oaklawn Park. The 1 1/16 mile Fantasy Stakes (G3) is a $400,000 race and the last chance for 3-year-old fillies to pick up points to the May 5 classic Kentucky Oaks.  

The 45th running of the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn awards 100-40-20-10 Road to the Kentucky Oaks points to the top four places. The Fantasy Stakes has been a rich source of Kentucky Oaks winners with eight to date: Davona Dale (1979), Bold ‘n Deterimined (1980), Heavenly Cause (1981), Tiffany Lass (1986), Lite Light (1991), Blushing K. D. (1997), Rachel Alexandra (2009), and Blind Luck (2010).  Rachel Alexandra would then go on to win the Preakness Stakes — the only Fantasy Stakes winner to then win a Triple Crown race.

A total of 12 horses passed the entry box, and there appears to be the lack of a real standout in this year’s Fantasy Stakes. A number of front runners or fillies that do their best running quite close to the lead could set up a faster pace. The top betting choices are Benner Island (5/2), Vexatious (7/2) and Spooky Woods (4/1). Next in line are Kell Paso (6/1), Chanel’s Legacy (8/1) and Torrent (10/1).

But a long shot has our interest as Ever So Clever (20-1) has had a trio of solid works following her 5th place finish in the Honeybee (G3) behind winner It Tiz Well. Trainer Steve Asmussen has been high on this filly by Madaglia d’Oro, and Ever So Clever hit the board in a pair of Grade II races over this distance at Churchill Downs last year at competitive prices. She has showed the ability to close well, even after a tough trip in the Golden Rod (G2) last November at Churchill. If you’re looking for an overlay and a potential big score, Ever So Clever should be in your wagering portfolio and exotic options in the Fantasy, as the pace and her ability to fire suggests a solid effort and potential upset as she settles well off the pace breaking from the far outside.

Benner Island may be the one to beat, as her 2nd place closing finish in the Honeybee has drawn interest. But she has been inconsistent, and recall Benner Island was 22-1 in that race, and clearly there is no value and frankly no interest in this caliber horse at such favoritism. The race setup may seem right, but new jockey Ricardo Santana only adds to the wagering interest with his recent hot riding at Hot Springs.

Vexatious is on our list to include and drops a bit in class after running after heavy favorite Farrell last out at in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) before being nosed out for place honors. This Giant’s Causway filly has solid speed with the ability to stalk and pounce. Her pedigree suggests she wants even more distance, so the 1 1/8 mile Kentucky Oaks will be favorable if she can finish top 3 in the Fantasy and add to her current 20 point Oaks leaderboard total.

Continuing an interest in looking for a longshot, Sunland invader Kell Paso has 2 wins and 2 place finishes in four starts. Three of those are in minor stakes races, and she has never raced outside of New Mexico. She is one that will also race near the front, and while Kell Paso may encounter some faster fillies up front, she has been game in the late stages of her races.

Friday, April 14: Oaklawn Park

Race 8, Fantasy Stakes (G3), three-year-old fillies, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 4:42pm CST